Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Pre-New 52 review: War of The Green Lanterns: Aftermath

Well, this is the exact point at which the creators as well as the editors and executives must have found out that DC Entertainment would be scrapping the DC Universe as it existed prior to Flashpoint and re-jigerring it with the New 52boot; the evidence is all over the comics contained in this collection.

First, Geoff Johns opted out of participating all together; rather than shipping an issue of his Green Lantern in August of 2011, DC shipped two issues of War of the Green Lanterns: Aftermath by writer Tony Bedard. They are collected in this 200-page volume, along with the last three issues of Green Lantern Corps (two of which are also by Bedard, one of which is by Scott Kolins), and the last three issues of Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors, which were written by Peter Tomasi.

On the cover, you'll note Bedard and Tomasi are the two creators credited, and in such a manner that it looks as if Tomasi was the artist of a Bedard-written story. As it turns out, the reason they didn't credit the artists is simply because there are way too goddam many of them.

Here then is Exhibit B in the prosecution's case that these few months worth of Green Latnern comics demonstrates that everyone stopped giving a fuck at this point, and were getting ready to start over with the New 52 versions of these titles: There are 21 different artists credited with working on this book, which breaks down to about one for every ten pages. If they were split evenly into pencilers and inkers, that wouldn't be so bad, as it would be about one creative team per issue (although that is still an awful lot of art teams), but that is not the case...many of the issues herein are split between multiple art teams.

It is, to put it as generously as possible, a complete fucking mess, visually. There are some decent artists involved, I like the work of a lot of some of these guys, and don't mind the work of some of the others, but the whole thing looks hurried, lazy and hacky, and none of the settings or characters are drawn by the same artists long enough to ever establish any sort of implied reality or consistency. It looks like a jam book, drawn by guys without access to character design sheets, prior copies of the book or even the ability to see what their fellow artists are drawing.

How big is Killowog? Four-feet-tall? Fourteen? Fifty? Whatever. What are Green Lantern costumes made out of? Polished jade stones, spandex, paint? Whatever. How big is Salaak's head in relationship to his body? Eh, who cares? I've read a handful of comics featuring the Green Lantern who is a big gray rock guy kinda like The Thing but not, and I still can't tell if he has a chin or if his mouth is embedded in his neck; everyone draws that fucking guy's head different.

Additionally, the chapters pretty baldly contradict one another, something I would charitably put down to the fact that the collection is arranged by series rather by the order in which the books are published, but the fact remains several of them are quite clearly pulled-out-of-the drawer fill-in issues, being published to fill space and kill time before the reboot, not because they have anything at all to do with the Aftermath of the War of the Green Lanterns.

Here, let's take 'em one by one.

Aftermath #1, by Bedard and two art teams, Miguel Sepulveda, inking himself, and Tyler Kikham and Batt: This is a straightforward recap of where every one was left at the end of the "War" story, with a lot of added yelling at each other. Hal's on Earth, ring-less. Mogo's dead, forming a ring of debris around Oa. Sinestro's a Green Lantern. Everyone's pissed about Sinestro wearing a ring. Everyone's pissed at John for killing Mogo. Kyle Rayner and his girlfriend are fighting, they kinda gloss over that.

Sepulvda's art work, which he either colored or was colored by a different of the five credited colorist than the one who colored the second half of this issue, is super-effects heavy, with his characters having rather posed, photo reference-y looks about them, and strange tetures permeating everything, and photos of shrubbery, police cars and night skies dropped in behind and around the drawn art.

Kirkham and Batt's, by contrast, is very comic book-y, looking flat and drawn the way a superhero comic book's art should and, more importantly, looking more like the rest of the Green Lantern comics than Sepulveda's weird-ass art. If you are drawing, say, a tiny, big-headed blue space man in a robe who floats, you can only go so "realistic" with the depiction before it just looks dumb; Sepulveda draws Ganthet like a regular sized human being kneeling, his robe covering his legs.

Aftermath #2, by Bedard, pencil artists Ransom Getty and Andy Smith, and, good God, eight different inkers: Everyone is still mad at everyone! In this issue, some of the tough guy Green Lanterns decide to get Sinestro's daughter Soranik Natu to help them storm the Guardians' citadel and slot Sinestro. Her boyfriend, Kyle Rayner, decides to stop them by beating them all up, and she and him fight each other for a little bit before the Guardians call a big meeting in which they tell the various Lanterns to stop being a bunch of jerks and go back to work. Kyle is sent back to Earth, but before he goes, he an da few others haul Mogo's remains off and throw them into the sun that orbits Oa.

GLC #61, by Bedard and the art team of Daniel HDR and Keith Champagne: This reads a bit like a fill-in issue, although it was obviously written after the events of "War" were decided. It's a stand-alone story in which one of the GLs recruited at random by the mind-controlled Mogo (Er, none of this makes any sense at all if you didn't read the comics, does it?), decides she want to keep her ring, and reaches out to John Stewart, who everyone else is shunning, on account of his having killed Mogo. They go on an adventure together, broker piece between a race of capitalist insect people and socialist plant people, and she learns a very valuable lesson. Stewart flies past the remains of Mogo at the climax and looks sad; the remains that were just removed and disposed of in the previous chapter.

GLC #62, by Bedard, HDR and Champagne: This is another stand-alone, done-in-one, featuring Kyle and Soranik. The Star Sapphire Miri hatches a dumb plot in order to bring them back together—she attacks an innocent planet in the hopes that their fighting alongside one another to defeat her will rekindle their love—they manage to work together, but then Kyle blurts out that when he looked into a magic love gem that was supposed to reveal to them the loves of their lives, he lied and told Sora he saw her face in it, when he had actually seen his dead girlfriend Jade (who has since been resurrected). They are totally broken up now!

GLC #63, by writer Scot Kolins, and four different art teams, each of whom draw a different "chapter" of this chapter, focusing on a different character. Robot Alpha Lantern Boodika is having a five-page crisis of faith, two funny-looking Lanterns who are supposed to work as prison guards abandon their post to go visit their even funnier-looking fellow Lantern, who is suffering from PTSD. Kyle Rayner, who was ordered to return to Earth about 100 pages ago, is trying to eat a hamburger in the cafeteria and gets in a big fight with some racist aliens. Then the Guardians are like, "Hey, quit having emotional problems and go back to work everyone!" and they all fly away in a two-page spread. That's the end of GLC, until it was rebooted the following month with a new #1, and the new creative team of Tomasi and Pasarin.

The remainder of the book contains three stand-alone Guy Gardner stories taken from the last three issues of Emerald Warriors: Nothing have much of anything to do with "War," or one another and, in fact, they seem to contradict one another. In the first, Guy is on his way back to Earth for "some R and R" and negotiates extending it after completing his mission before taking it on, but he's there for two more issues. All three read like fill-in issues, and as to why they appear here at all, I imagine it's simply because there was nowhere else to put them. The first Emerald Warriors arc filled a single trade, the next few issues were every third chapter of "War," and that left only three issues to collect...not enough to fill their own trade.

So here's what's left...

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #11, by Tomasi and the great Bernard Chang: Guy intervenes to save an interstellar diplomat, is betrayed and loses his ring, but beats up the bad guy in gets his ring back.

GL:EW #12, by Tomasi, Chris Batista and John Dell: A giant space monster is attacking Green Lantern precinct houses and eating Green Lanterns, so the Guardians ask Guy to recruit a bunch of badass Green Lanterns to go kill it. They do. It's a cool monster design, and some of the Green Lanterns were kinda cool; one looks a lot like one of the Dinosaucers.

GL: EW #13, by Tomasi, Ron Frenz, Dell and Marc Deering: This is a Batman team-up, powered by nostalgia for the Giffen/DeMatteis era of Justice League comics. There's a murder on a high-tech space station, and Batman and Guy converge there to solve the mystery. They do.

And that's the end of this book, and of the Pre-New 52 Green Lantern franchise.

1 comment:

SallyP said...

As much as I love Green Lanterns, I have to agree with you on some of this. I thought that the actual War of the Green Lanterns was darned good...but the whole Aftermath does look as though it was just cobbled together. It is jumbled, and occasionally incoherent, and it could have been SO much better than it was.

Although I did enjoy the Emerald Warrior issues...but again, they didn't really go with the GLC stuff. We never DID find out what happened with the characters from Emerald Warriors just before the whole War of the Green Lanterns, and it still bothers me.